The existing square was formed after the demolition of Stambol Gate and the construction of the National Theatre building in 1869.
Stambol Gate, built by the Austrians at the turn of the 18th century, was located between the monument to Prince Mihailo and the National Theatre. The road to Istanbul (“Stambol”) led through it, lending the gate its name. In popular accounts the Stambol Gate became infamous for the Turkish custom of slaughtering Serbian rebels in front of it, using one of the most horrifying methods of execution – impalement.
Following the establishment of Serbian authorities and the demolition of Stambol Gate, the area of modern-day Republic Square was left barren for a long time. The National Theatre stood as the sole building for over 30 years. When the monument to Prince Mihailo was erected in 1882, the gradual urban shaping of the square began. A long-lying ground-level building was constructed at the location of today’s National Museum, housing, among others, the famous “Dardaneli” inn, the gathering place for the artists of the time. The building was demolished for the construction of the Funds Authority building in 1903 (today’s National Museum building). The small park next to the National Theatre housed the famous inn and cinema “Kolarac” until World War II (the building was the property of the merchant and benefactor Ilija Milosavljević Kolarac). The Riunione Palace, housing the “Jadran” cinema, was built in 1930.
The tram tracks were removed after World War II (between the two world wars the square was a tram turn) and the square holding the graves and memorials of the Red Army soldiers killed during the liberation of Belgrade in 1944 was moved (their mortal remains were moved to the Graveyard of the Liberators of Belgrade).